Federal authorities allege that a Minnesota postmaster faked injuries for years, collecting more than $275,000 in lost wages and medical bills, even though he was performing physical tasks while away from his job.
Andrew K. Broughton, 60, of Faribault, is charged with committing fraud to obtain federal employee compensation. Broughton was charged in federal court in Minneapolis by "information," meaning that he's notified authorities of his intention to plead guilty.
On Monday, Judge Joan Ericksen ruled that Broughton "is financially unable to employ counsel" and had an attorney provided for him by the government. About a year ago, Broughton and his wife filed for bankruptcy.
That attorney, Kevin O'Brien, said Thursday that he and Broughton "anticipate resolving this case through a guilty plea [that] will include him agreeing to pay restitution."
According to the indictment: Broughton, while postmaster for Elko New Market, began reporting on-the-job injuries as early as October 2000, starting with back problems. Then he disclosed a foot injury in September 2011 and hand injuries in August 2014.
For 15 years starting in September 2001, Broughton received $94,159 to make up for lost wages and another $182,226 so he could pay medical bills.
To counter Broughton's claim that his injuries prevented him from going to work, prosecutors alleged that in the summer of 2015, he "performed numerous physical activities that were inconsistent with his alleged disabilities."
Among the tasks that prosecutors say Broughton was doing: yard work on a riding mower and using a weed trimmer, moving a large cedar swing and frame across his yard and unloading heavy coolers and other equipment from his fishing boat.
"According to his treating doctors," the indictment read, "the physical work and activities actually performed by the defendant were inconsistent with the physical abilities that he reported to his treating doctors during clinical appointments. Some of the physical activities actually ... were similar to work that [Broughton] would have performed" as a postmaster.
In June 2015, Broughton refused to return to work on a limited basis "even though he was capable of performing the job."